Food Prices and Population Health in Developing

Countries: An Investigation of the Efects of
the Food Crisis Using a Panel Analysis
Suejin Lee, Jae-Young Lim, Hyun-Hoon Lee, and Cyn-Young Park
No. 374 | September 2013
ADB Economics
Working Paper Series
Food Prices and Population Health in Developing Countries:
An Investigation of the Efects of the Food Crisis Using a Panel Analysis
The efects of high and unstable food prices can be felt anywhere in the world—but more so in developing
countries, where the poor are most vulnerable. Prohibitive food prices threaten food security, hindering the
poor from getting adequate nutrition. Using a dataset covering 63 developing countries from 2001 to 2010, this
paper examines the efects of food price infation and volatility on population health in developing countries,
specifcally in terms of infant mortality, child mortality, and undernourishment. The paper fnds that rising food
prices have a signifcant and adverse efect on health indicators in developing countries.
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ADB Economics Working Paper Series









Food Prices and Population Health in Developing
Countries: An Investigation of the Effects of
the Food Crisis Using a Panel Analysis

Suejin Lee, Jae-Young Lim, Hyun-Hoon Lee,
and Cyn-Young Park

No. 374 September 2013



Suejin Lee, Korea University, Republic of Korea;
Jae-Young Lim, Korea University, Republic
of Korea; Hyun-Hoon Lee, Kangwon National
University, Republic of Korea; and Cyn-Young Park,
Asian Development Bank.



Asian Development Bank
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1550 Metro Manila, Philippines
www.adb.org

©2013 by Asian Development Bank
September 2013
ISSN 1655-5252
Publication Stock No. WPS135998



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CONTENTS



ABSTRACT v

I. INTRODUCTION 1

II. FOOD, NUTRITION, AND HEALTH IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES 2

III. EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS 6

A. Model Specification 6
B. Explanatory Variables 7
C. Results and Discussions 11

IV. SUMMARY AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS 16

APPENDIXES 17

A. Country List and Statistics on Food Price 17
B. Country List and Statistics on Population Health 19

REFERENCES 21

ABSTRACT



High food prices can be an immediate threat to household food security,
undermining population health, retarding human development, and lowering labor
productivity for the economy in the long term. We employ a panel dataset
covering 63 developing countries from 2001 to 2010 to make a comprehensive
assessment of the effects of food price inflation and volatility on population health
measured by infant mortality rate, child mortality rate, and the prevalence of
undernourishment. We find that rising food prices have a significant and adverse
effect on all three health indicators in developing countries. Furthermore, the
impact of food prices is severer in the least developing countries although the
effect is moderated in countries with a greater share of agriculture in gross
domestic product.




Keywords: food price, health, food security

JEL Classification: I15, I18, I19, Q18

I. INTRODUCTION

Global food prices have remained high and volatile since the peak of the global food crisis of
2008, exacerbating hunger and malnutrition around the world. Although vulnerabilities would
differ even within societies and households, the impact will be the most severe among the
poorest households of the poorest countries.

Children are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity resulting from high food prices.
Inadequate food intake and unfavorable changes in dietary patterns may affect their physical
and mental development. In the short term, the effects are likely to be the increased prevalence
of stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), and other micronutrient
deficiency disorders among children, as well as increased chances of developing chronic
diseases. In turn, these lead to an increase in child morbidity and mortality. Malnutrition at a
young age may also impair proper mental development and learning ability, leading to reduced
work productivity in later years.

Brinkman et al. (2010) warn that high food prices risk undoing much of the progress
made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),
1
which call for the
reduction in under-5 mortality by two-thirds (Goal 4) and the halving of the proportion of
underweight children (Goal 1) between 1990 and 2015. On the other hand, Konandreas (2012)
reveals that low-income countries, especially the poor net food-importing countries that depend
on imports for a large share of their food consumption, have limited means to procure food and
other necessities, and have been deeply affected by the food crisis in recent years.

High and increasing food prices can be an immediate threat to household food security,
undermining population health, retarding human development, and lowering labor productivity
for the economy in the long term. In addition, the high volatility of food prices and the associated
uncertainty may impede sustainable and long-term consumption decisions of households,
increasing the risk of chronic low food intake. Understanding the effect of the food crisis on
nutrition, health, and poverty is therefore critical for the development of public policies and social
programs to help vulnerable groups. An accurate assessment is needed to help target social
assistance policies and programs, monitor their progress, and evaluate their effects.

Some studies have examined the impact of the recent global food crisis, in combination
with the global financial crisis, on nutrition and health (Brinkman et al. 2010; Christian 2010;
Webb 2010; Darnton-Hill and Cogill 2010; Bloem et al. 2010). Brinkman et al. (2010) assess the
potential effects of the global financial crisis on food consumption, nutrition, and health by
examining various transmission channels. Focusing on the effect of high food prices on food
consumption, they show that a food consumption score—a measure of diet frequency and
diversity—was negatively correlated with food prices in Haiti, Nepal, and Niger; and argue that a
large number of vulnerable households in developing countries reduced the quality and quantity
of their food consumption, and faced the risk of malnutrition as a result of the global financial
crisis. Drawing from the experience of previous crises, Christian (2010) identifies and elaborates
a number of nutritional pathways by which the economic crisis and increase in food prices may
affect infant and child mortality. The food crisis and decreased food availability can lead to
increases in childhood wasting and stunting, intrauterine growth restriction, and micronutrient
deficiencies such as that of vitamin A, iron, and zinc. Webb (2010) argues that high food prices

1
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals with specific targets and
means of measurements, officially established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations (UN) in
2000 and the adoption of the UN Millennium Declaration.
2 | ADB Economics Working Paper Series No. 374


are likely to persist, and urges increased agricultural investment and appropriate food policy to
improve diet quality as well as food quantity. Darnton-Hill and Cogill (2010) review past food
price shocks and their known impacts on nutrition, and emphasize that such shocks primarily
compromise maternal and child nutrition, mainly through a reduction in dietary quality and an
increase in micronutrient deficiencies, and concomitant increases in infectious disease morbidity
and mortality. Bloem et al. (2010) summarize a series of papers exploring the impact of
economic crises, climate change, and the increase in food prices on vulnerable populations,
particularly through hidden hunger.

While the impact of the food crisis on nutrition and health draws much policy attention,
empirical estimates of this impact remain scarce. Instead, many studies have relied on
conceptual representations to explain how high food prices could affect nutrition and health
conditions.

This paper aims to assess the effects of food prices on population health. While earlier
studies have provided limited empirical evidence on the link between food prices and health, we
undertake a comprehensive and systematic regression analysis by employing a panel dataset
comprising population health variables, food price inflation and volatility, and other control
variables for 63 developing countries during 2001–2010. Specifically, this paper attempts to
show the impact of not only food price inflation but also food price volatility on population health.
In doing so, we assess how the impact of food prices on population health can be affected by
different country characteristics in terms of income/human development and the relative
importance of agriculture in the gross domestic product (GDP).

The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. Section II offers a brief overview of
how food, nutrition, and health are essential for achieving overall development goals in poor
countries. It also presents the progress of the MDGs that highlight good nutrition. In Section III,
we employ a panel data analysis to assess the effects of food price inflation and volatility
on health conditions, specifically infant mortality, child mortality, and the prevalence of
undernourishment. Section IV concludes with a summary of empirical findings and a discussion
on policy implications.


II. FOOD, NUTRITION, AND HEALTH IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES

Food and nutrition are critical factors which influence health conditions especially among the
poor and vulnerable. About 868 million people in the world are chronically undernourished and
84% of them live in developing countries (Figure 1). Scientific research shows that poor nutrition
affects health through the immune system, increasing the incidence and severity of diseases
(see e.g. Chandra 1991, 1997; Tomkins and Watson 1989). Malnutrition and undernutrition
also adversely affect physical and cognitive development, especially among children, which may
lead to chronic health problems later in life and impede individual work capacity and
productivity. A study by the World Bank (2009) reports that a child undernourished during the
first two years of his/her life is less likely to complete school, and as an adult is expected to earn
10%–17% less than someone who was well nourished.






Food Prices and Population Health in Developing Countries | 3


Figure 1: Undernourishment in 2010–2012, by Region
(millions)

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). http:// www.fao.org/hunger/en/
 

Food security—the ability to access food of sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy
nutrition needs—is one of the most important items on the development agenda. Ensuring
adequate nutrition is crucial not only for the health and survival of an individual, but also for the
human capital and economic development of a society. Human capital and productivity are often
positively related to an individual’s real income, which then allows people to obtain adequate
food, build their human capital, educate their children, and so forth. The circular relationship
among malnutrition, ill health, and poor economic outcomes is a serious development problem,
as this often traps people in poverty. ADB (2012) argues that food security and poverty are
highly interconnected, and estimate that food price increases in the late 2000s have trapped
about 112 million people in poverty in Asia alone. On the other hand, improved nutrition
contributes to poverty reduction and promotes economic growth that is inclusive.

Malnutrition is also a major hurdle to achieving the MDGs—particularly Goal 1,
eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; Goal 4, reducing child mortality; Goal 5, improving
maternal health; and Goal 6, fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.

Specifically, MDG 1 calls for halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by
2015, as its third target. Table 1 shows the prevalence of undernourishment as an indicator for
this target. In the least developed countries (LDCs),
2
one in three people still suffers from food
intake that is continuously insufficient to meet dietary energy requirements.


2
The LDCs have been identified by the UN using the following three criteria: income, human resource, and
economic vulnerability.
4 | ADB Economics Working Paper Series No. 374


Table 1: Percentage of Undernourished in Total Population (%)
1990–1992 2000–2002 2010–2012
World 16 14 13
Developing Regions 20 17 15
Least Developed Countries (LDCs) 40 36 32
North Africa < 5 < 5 < 5
Sub-Saharan Africa 31 29 27
Latin America and the Caribbean 12 10 8
East Asia 18 10 12
South Asia 22 21 18
Southeast Asia 24 17 11
West Asia 6 8 10
Oceania 12 13 12
Caucasus and Central Asia 16 17 7
Note: < 5 signifies data less than 5%.
Source: UN 2012.


MDG 4 aims at reducing child mortality rates by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015.
Table 2 reports the mortality rates for children (under 5) and infants (under 1) in developing
countries over time. Substantial progress has been made since 1990. In the developing regions,
child mortality rate has dropped by more than 30%—from 97 deaths per 1,000 live births in
1990 to 63 in 2011. North Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and West
Asia have reduced their under-5 mortality rate by more than 50%. Globally, however, the data
suggests that 19,000 children under five died everyday in 2011 and more than a third of the
under-five deaths were attributable to undernutrition (United Nations Children’s Fund [UNICEF]
2012).


Table 2: Infant and Child Mortality Rates Per 1,000 Live Births
Infant Mortality Rate Child Mortality Rate
1990 2000 2010 1990 2000 2010
World 61 51 40 88 73 57
Developing Regions 67 56 44 97 80 63
Least Developed Countries (LDCs) 106 88 71 170 138 110
North Africa 62 38 23 82 47 27
Sub-Saharan Africa 105 94 76 174 154 121
Latin America and the Caribbean 43 29 18 54 35 23
East Asia 38 27 16 48 33 18
South Asia 84 65 51 117 87 66
Southeast Asia 49 36 25 71 48 32
West Asia 52 35 25 67 45 32
Oceania 55 48 41 75 63 52
Caucasus and Central Asia 63 52 39 77 62 45
Source: UN 2012.
Food Prices and Population Health in Developing Countries | 5


MDG 5 targets at improving maternal health by reducing the maternal mortality ratio by
75% between 1990 and 2015, and achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015.
Maternal undernutrition, characterized by a short stature and a low body mass index, and
anemia caused by iron deficiency, can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes, contributing to at
least 20% of maternal deaths (World Health Organization The Partnership for Maternal,
Newborn, and Child Health 2010). Poor maternal health and nutrition also explain at least 20%
of disease in children under age 5 (UNICEF 2013).

Good nutrition is key to achieving MDG 6, which targets to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria,
and other diseases. Malnutrition and undernutrition remain major causes of death in developing
countries, especially among children. Malnutrition is implicated in more than half of all deaths
among children worldwide because it dramatically increases their vulnerability to infectious
diseases (Figure 2).


Figure 2: Major Causes of Under-5 Deaths in Developing Countries
and the Contribution of Malnutrition

The major causes of under-5 mortality include common preventable or treatable diseases such as measles, diarrhea,
and pneumonia. Malnutrition increases children’s vulnerability to these conditions.
Note:Percentages do not total 100% due to rounding.
Source: United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Adapted from “WHO Estimates of the Causes
of Death in Children.” 2005. The Lancet 365 (9465). pp. 1147–1152.


Good nutrition and health are essential for improving productivity and economic growth,
and for reducing poverty. In particular, providing adequate nutrition to the young gives promise
to the future, not only for individuals but also for societies and nations. Therefore, a society’s
health and nutrition should be considered prerequisites for the long-term socioeconomic
progress of a country as well as primary indicators of development.



6 | ADB Economics Working Paper Series No. 374


III. EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS

A. Model Specification

In order to empirically assess the effects of food prices on population health, we constructed a
panel dataset covering 63 developing countries with observations from 2001 to 2010. In the
analysis, population health indicators such as infant mortality rate, child mortality rate, and the
prevalence of undernourishment are used as three different dependent variables. As discussed
in the previous section, they are also indicators included in MDGs 1 and 4. All of these variables
were taken from the UN MDG Indicators database.
3


Figure 3 illustrates the trend of population health in terms of infant mortality, child
mortality, and the prevalence of undernourishment in our dataset. All of these indicators show a
very persistent decreasing trend throughout 2001–2010. In the figure, it is hard to notice any
fluctuations except the slope of the prevalence of undernourishment, which has become more
gradual since 2008. The prevalence of undernourishment appears to decline more rapidly
than the other two indicators, but this is because it is expressed as a percentage (right scale in
the figure), while the other two indicators are expressed as per 1,000 live births (left scale in
the figure).


Figure 3: Trend of Population Health in Developing Countries, 2001–2010

Source: Authors’ calculations using the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Indicators
database.


Figure 4 shows the comparative scale of the annual growth rates for the three indicators.
Of the three, the prevalence of undernourishment has been decreasing on a scale smaller than
the other two indicators. In particular, the annual change rate of undernourishment prevalence
has become smaller in recent years.






3
UN MDG Indicators, http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Default.aspx
Food Prices and Population Health in Developing Countries | 7


Figure 4: Trend of the Growth Rates of Population Health, 2001–2010 (%)

Source: Authors’ calculations using the UN MDGs Indicators database.


Because infant mortality, child mortality, and prevalence of undernourishment show a
gradual downward trend, we must try to fully capture the precise impact of high and volatile food
prices. While all three indicators exhibit a slowly decreasing trend, the slope differs across
different countries. Thus, our panel regression model employs country-specific linear time
trends to de-trend the deterministic trends in the health-related indicators. This captures the
impact of slow-moving changes occurring in a specific country throughout the period of analysis
(Yang 2003; Gerdtham and Ruhm 2006).

Thus, the equation to be estimated is

(1)

where C
it
is the log of infant mortality rate, child mortality rate, or the prevalence of
undernourishment in country i and year t. FP is annual food price inflation rate or food price
volatility, and CV is a vector of control variables. Region fixed effects
j
control for time-invariant
differences among regions (j),
4
while year fixed effects θ

control for global changes in the same
year. The vector of country-specific linear time trends, TREND, controls for factors that vary
over time within nations. ε
it
is a mean-zero error term.

B. Explanatory Variables

In this subsection, we explain our key independent variables—food price inflation and
volatilities—and seven control variables included in equation (1).

Food price inflation and volatilities

Food price inflation and food price volatility are calculated based on the domestic food
consumer price index (CPI) for each developing country, which is drawn from the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) statistical database or FAOSTAT. The
food CPI measures the changes over time in the prices of food items that households acquire

4
The regions are East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa,
Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Central Asia. Appendix A lists the countries within each region.
| | | ¸ µ u c ' ' = + + + + +
0 1 2 it it it i i j t it
C FP CV TREND
8 | ADB Economics Working Paper Series No. 374


for consumption. However, it should be noted that the index does not consider the possibility of
different food consumption baskets across countries. The baseline year of food CPI is the year
2000 for most of the countries, but some countries report different baseline years.
5


Food price inflation rate is calculated as the annual growth rate of food CPI based on
observations made in December of every year. The volatility of food prices can be measured in
different ways. Some papers use the GARCH or spline-GARCH model (e.g., Rapsomanikis and
Mugera 2011). However, the long-term series of food price indexes are not readily available in
many developing countries, disallowing the use of GARCH or spline-GARCH. Therefore,
following an approach used by Balcombe (2011) and Lee and Park (forthcoming), we calculate
food price volatility as the square root of the sum of the squared percentage changes in the
monthly series:

( ) ( )
=
A
=
¿
2
12
, ,
1
ln
11
i j t
j
it
p
V (2)

where P
i,j,t
is the food price of the country i in the jth month in year t.

Figure 5 illustrates the trend of calculated annual price inflation and volatility in our
sample. Inflation rate and volatility seem to be persistent or slightly decreasing until the mid-
2000s. Then they show an increase in 2007–2008 and a decrease in 2009 before rising again
in 2010.


Figure 5: Trend of Annual Food Price Inflation and Volatility in Developing Countries,
2001–2010

Source: Authors’ calculations using the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Statistical Database
(FAOSTAT).




5
Because food price inflation rates and volatilities are calculated using the growth rate of the indices, having
different base years does not incur a problem. But there are some countries that report more than one baseline
year during the sample period of this study, and these countries are excluded in the analysis.
Food Prices and Population Health in Developing Countries | 9


Table 3 provides a summary of statistics for food price inflation and volatilities as well
as the three health indicators for 11 LDCs and 52 other developing countries.
6
On average,
the LDCs reported higher infant and child mortalities as well as higher undernourishment
prevalence than the non-LDCs between 2001 and 2010. Reflecting the substantial progress
toward MDGs, all three health-related indicators dropped sharply in the LDCs even faster
than in the non-LDCs, even with food price inflation being higher in the LDCs than in other
developing countries. Specifically, during 2001–2010, the average food price inflation rate for
the LDCs was 12.3% while that for other developing countries was 8.6%. Also, food price
volatilities were higher in the LDCs than in other developing countries


Table 3: Summary Statistics
LDCs Non-LDCs Total
Food Price Inflation Average 12.3 8.6

9.3
Food Price Volatility Average 0.0187 0.0163

0.0167
Infant Mortality
2001 58.8 32.8 37.3
2010 39.2 23.1 25.9
Change 19.5 9.7 11.4
Child Mortality
2001 82.1 44.1 50.7
2010 52.2 30.3 34.1
Change 29.9 13.8 16.6
Prevalence of
Undernourishment
2001 25.6 13.5 15.6
2010 21.9 11.0 12.9
Change 3.7 2.5 2.8
LDC = least developed countries.
Notes:
1. LDCs were identified by the United Nations using the following three criteria: income, human resource, and
economic vulnerability.
2. Average is the annual average rate during 2001–2010.
3. Change is the difference between the figures of 2010 and 2001.
Source: Authors' calculations using data from FAOSTAT and UN MDGs Indicators database.

The main objective of this paper is to capture the effects of food price inflation and
volatility on population health in developing countries, but there is no doubt that various other
factors also influence health conditions. Therefore, the regression analysis also includes
some control variables which may affect infant mortality, child mortality, and the prevalence of
undernourishment.

Listed below are the seven control variables included in the analysis:

1. Log of general government expenditure on health per capita in constant (2005)
dollars: This variable captures the government’s commitment to the maintenance
and improvement of health and medicine. The role of public health in population
health is examined in many studies (e.g., Preston 1975, 1980, and 1996; Cutler,
Deaton, and Lleras-Muney 2006; Muldoon et al. 2011; Houweling et al. 2005;
Evans 1995; Schell et al. 2007). Source: WHO database.
7


6
The names of the 11 countries classified as LDCs are reported in Appendix A.
7
World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Observatory Data Repository, http://apps.who.int/gho/
data/view.main
10 | ADB Economics Working Paper Series No. 374


2. Log of GDP per capita, purchasing power parity (PPP) in constant (2005)
international dollars: This is to capture the country’s level of economic
development. Higher income should translate to higher expenditures on food and
health for households, and higher standards of infrastructure for health and
medicine for states (Pritchett and Summers 1996). However, the role of economic
development in health improvement in developing countries has been
controversial. Although income brings so many things—better nutrition, better
housing, the ability to pay for health care, as well as the means for the public
provision of clean water and sanitation—cross-country evidence does not suggest
that economic development will improve health without deliberate public action
(Dreze and Sen 2002; Cutler, Deaton, and Lleras-Muney 2006). Source: World
Development Indicators (WDI), World Bank.
8


3. Political score: This is an index of political regime (Polity IV) which measures the
concomitant qualities of democratic and autocratic authority in governing
institutions, on a 21-point scale ranging from −10 (hereditary monarchy) to +10
(consolidated democracy). We include the index as a control variable to see
whether democracy level promotes population health conditions in developing
countries (Wilson 2011; Houweling et al. 2005; Frey and Field 2000). Source:
Center for Systemic Peace.
9


4. Armed conflict dummy: This is a dummy variable for armed conflict, with “1”
indicating if there is conflict and “0” if otherwise. It is included to capture conflict-
related deaths (Mishra and Newhouse 2007). Source: International Institute for
Strategic Studies.
10


5. Log of youth population ages 0–14 (% of total): This is to assess how the
population structure affects population health. Following Muldoon et al. (2011) and
Mishra and Newhouse (2007), we also used fertility rate as an alternative indicator
of population structure and found similar results. Source: WDI, World Bank.

6. Log of proportion of the population using an improved sanitation facility: The
provision of sanitation is seen as an essential complement to the availability of food
in preventing child malnutrition. Even if there is sufficient food for children, diarrhea
hampers the intake of calories and micronutrients, and thereby prevents adequate
nutritional outcomes and increases the likelihood of mortality (Charmarbagwala
et al. 2004; Muldoon et al. 2011; Schell et al. 2007; Mishra and Newhouse 2007).
Source: UN MDGs Indicators Database.
11


7. Log of agriculture, value-added as a percentage of GDP: This is to capture the
level of self-sufficiency in developing countries. According to the FAO, WFP, and
IFAD (2012), agricultural growth is found to be particularly effective in reducing
hunger and malnutrition. Most of the extreme poor depend on agriculture and
related activities for a significant part of their livelihoods. Agricultural growth
involving smallholders, especially women, will be most effective in reducing

8
World Bank World Development Indicators (WDI), http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development
-indicators
9
Center for Systemic Peace, http://www.systemicpeace.org/
10
International Institute for Strategic Studies, http://www.iiss.org/
11
UN MDG Statistics, http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/stats.shtml
Food Prices and Population Health in Developing Countries | 11


continued on next page
extreme poverty and hunger when it increases returns to labor and generates
employment for the poor. Source: WDI, World Bank.

Variables on male–female education and economic inequality have also been suggested as
determinants of population health in the literature (Schell et al. 2007; Charmarbagwala et al.
2004; Cutler, Deaton, and Lleras-Muney 2006; Shen and Williamson 2000). However, these
variables are excluded in the regression because the annual data for developing countries are
not available.

C. Results and Discussions

Table 4 reports the estimated results for contemporaneous and lagged effects of food price
inflation on population health in terms of infant mortality, child mortality, and the prevalence of
undernourishment. All specifications include year effects, region-fixed effects, and country-
specific linear time trends. Results in columns (1), (3), and (5) show that contemporaneous
price inflation rates are positively and significantly associated with all three measures of
population health. A 1% increase in contemporaneous price inflation rate is associated with a
0.2% increase in infant and child mortality rate and a 0.4% increase in prevalence of
undernourishment, all things being equal. Columns (2), (4), and (6) report the results when one-
and two-period lagged food price inflation rates are included in the estimation to see how quickly
the different health measures are affected by inflation. While undernourishment prevalence is
more sensitive to contemporaneous food price inflation, infant and child mortality are more
responsive to the food price inflation rates of the previous years.


Table 4: Contemporaneous and Lagged Effects of Food Price Inflation
Infant Mortality Child Mortality Undernourishment
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Food price inflation rates 0.002*** 0.001 0.002*** 0.001 0.004*** 0.004***
(0.001) (0.001) (0.001) (0.001) (0.001) (0.001)
Food price inflation rates (t-1) 0.001* 0.001* 0.002**
(0.001) (0.001) (0.001)
Food price inflation rates (t-2) 0.001** 0.001** 0.0003
(0.001) (0.001) (0.001)
Log of government health −0.165*** −0.103*** −0.163*** −0.097*** −0.382*** −0.261***
expenditure per capita (0.026) (0.028) (0.028) (0.030) (0.042) (0.048)
Log of GDP per capita, PPP 0.078 0.014 0.076 0.025 0.034 0.004
(0.051) (0.053) (0.054) (0.057) (0.083) (0.090)
Political score −0.006** −0.004 −0.006** −0.004 0.010** 0.011**
(0.002) (0.003) (0.003) (0.003) (0.004) (0.004)
Armed conflict dummy −0.016 −0.021 −0.016 −0.023 0.038 0.034
(0.029) (0.027) (0.031) (0.029) (0.048) (0.047)
Log of youth population share 1.002*** 0.895*** 1.126*** 1.030*** 0.506*** 0.443**
(0.090) (0.103) (0.097) (0.111) (0.148) (0.176)
Log of improved sanitation −0.412*** −0.410*** −0.498*** −0.508*** −0.545*** −0.702***
facilities (0.047) (0.058) (0.051) (0.062) (0.077) (0.098)
Log of value-added agriculture −0.066** −0.022 −0.096*** −0.051* −0.161*** −0.111**
(% of GDP) (0.028) (0.027) (0.030) (0.029) (0.046) (0.046)
12 | ADB Economics Working Paper Series No. 374


Table 4 continued



Infant Mortality Child Mortality Undernourishment
(1) (2) (3) (4) (1) (2)
Constant 1.569*** 2.186*** 1.798*** 2.316*** 4.277*** 4.848***
(0.565) (0.621) (0.608) (0.670) (0.926) (1.061)
Number of observations 539 416 539 416 537 414
R2 0.963 0.981 0.966 0.982 0.927 0.960
( ) = standard errors, GDP = gross domestic product, PPP = purchasing power parity, R2 = R-squared.
Notes:
1. ***, ** and * denote significance at 1%, 5%, and 10%, respectively.
2. Dependent variables are log of infant mortality rate, log of child mortality rate, and log of prevalence of
undernourishment.
3. All specifications control for year effects, region-fixed effects, and country-specific linear time trends.
Source: Authors' calculations.


For all specifications, the log of government health expenditures per capita is negatively
associated with infant mortality, child mortality, and the prevalence of undernourishment,
implying that governments’ strong commitment to public health plays an important role in
improving population health. While the log of youth population share has a positive association
with population health in developing countries, the log of improved sanitation facilities and the
log of value-added agriculture as a percentage of GDP have statistically significant negative
relationships in all equations. Political score, or the level of democracy, does not have
consistent results: while columns (1) and (3) seem to show that a high democracy level reduces
infant and child mortality, it is a puzzle that in columns (5) and (6), political score shows a
positive association with the prevalence of undernourishment. Meanwhile, the coefficients of the
log of GDP per capita and the armed conflict dummy are not statistically significant for all
specifications. The reason why GDP per capita is not significant is that the log of GDP per
capita is highly correlated with other control variables.
12
The insignificance of conflict is
consistent with the findings of Mishra and Newhouse (2007), but the reason for this finding
deserves further investigation.

Table 5 reports the contemporaneous and lagged effects of food price volatility on
population health. According to the findings, high food price volatility increases infant and child
mortality, but does not seem to affect the prevalence of undernourishment. Infant and child
mortalities are mostly affected by the past food price volatilities, implying that it takes some time
for food price volatility to affect mortality rates. Although the coefficients of price volatility are
larger than price inflation rates, we cannot say that price volatility has a bigger impact on
population health outcomes, because different units are used to measure inflation and volatility.
Other control variables reveal similar results for food price inflation rate, as in Table 3.



12
In our sample, the simple correlation between the log of GDP per capita and the log of government health
expenditure per capita is 0.888, while between the log of GDP per capita and the log of youth population share is
−0.5862.
Food Prices and Population Health in Developing Countries | 13


Table 5: Contemporaneous and Lagged Effects of Food Price Volatility
Infant Mortality Child Mortality Undernourishment
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Food price volatility 1.920** 0.415 1.978** 0.410 1.823 1.537
(0.797) (0.786) (0.855) (0.848) (1.339) (1.368)
Food price volatility (t-1) 0.823 0.898 0.437
(0.732) (0.789) (1.272)
Food price volatility (t-2) 1.957*** 2.139*** 0.940
(0.694) (0.748) (1.205)
Log of government health −0.198*** −0.136*** −0.198*** −0.136*** −0.306*** −0.206***
expenditure per capita (0.030) (0.030) (0.032) (0.032) (0.051) (0.052)
Log of GDP per capita, PPP 0.087* 0.034 0.084 0.049 −0.016 −0.043
(0.051) (0.053) (0.055) (0.057) (0.086) (0.092)
Political score −0.003 −0.002 −0.002 −0.001 0.002 0.003
(0.003) (0.003) (0.003) (0.003) (0.005) (0.005)
Armed conflict dummy −0.003 −0.021 −0.002 −0.024 0.016 −0.021
(0.029) (0.028) (0.031) (0.030) (0.049) (0.049)
Log of youth population share 1.030*** 0.935*** 1.162*** 1.073*** 0.647*** 0.588***
(0.090) (0.104) (0.097) (0.112) (0.151) (0.180)
Log of improved sanitation −0.378*** −0.362*** −0.461*** −0.455*** −0.513*** −0.642***
facilities (0.046) (0.057) (0.049) (0.061) (0.077) (0.099)
Log of value-added −0.098*** −0.046* −0.132*** −0.078*** −0.155*** −0.107**
agriculture (% of GDP) (0.028) (0.028) (0.031) (0.030) (0.048) (0.048)
Constant 1.437** 1.826*** 1.656*** 1.906*** 3.836*** 4.363***
(0.558) (0.611) (0.599) (0.659) (0.936) (1.061)
Number of observations 531 411 531 411 529 409
R2 0.963 0.980 0.966 0.982 0.924 0.957
( ) = standard errors, GDP = gross domestic product, PPP = purchasing power parity, R2 = R-squared.
Notes:
1. ***, ** and * denote significance at 1%, 5%, and 10%, respectively.
2. Dependent variables are log of infant mortality rate, log of child mortality rate, and log of prevalence of
undernourishment.
3. All specifications control for year effects, region-fixed effects, and country-specific linear time trends.
Source: Authors' calculations.


Table 6 reports the different effects of food price and volatility on population health in the
LDCs and other developing countries. In our sample, 11 countries are classified as LDCs.
13
As
one may expect, the results show that the LDCs are more vulnerable to high food price inflation
and volatility than other developing countries. A 1% increase in food price inflation incurs an
increase of 0.3% in both infant and child mortalities, and 0.5% in undernourishment prevalence.
On the other hand, food price inflation does not have a significant impact on infant and child
mortalities, and has a smaller influence on the prevalence of undernourishment in other

13
Although there are 49 countries categorized by the UN as LDCs, only 11 of them have been included in this study
because of data limitations. Therefore, one should be cautious when generalizing the estimated results.
14 | ADB Economics Working Paper Series No. 374


developing countries than in the LDCs. It also appears that food price volatility has a detrimental
effect on population health only among the LDCs.

Table 6: Effects of Food Price Inflation and Volatility:
Least Developed Countries vs. Other Developing Countries
Infant
Mortality
Child
Mortality
Under-
nourishment
Infant
Mortality
Child
Mortality
Under-
nourishment
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Food price inflation * 0.003*** 0.003*** 0.005***
LDCs (0.001) (0.001) (0.001)
Food price inflation * 0.001 0.001 0.003*
non-LDCs (0.001) (0.001) (0.001)
Food price volatility * 3.199*** 3.579*** 4.546**
LDCs (1.156) (1.239) (1.936)
Food price volatility * 1.023 0.856 −0.091
non-LDCs (0.990) (1.061) (1.659)
Log of government
health expenditure
per capita
−0.167*** −0.165*** −0.385*** −0.204*** −0.204*** −0.318***
(0.026) (0.028) (0.043) (0.030) (0.032) (0.051)
Log of GDP per 0.086* 0.085 0.045 0.103** 0.103* 0.018
capita, PPP (0.051) (0.055) (0.083) (0.052) (0.056) (0.088)
Political score −0.006** −0.006** 0.011*** −0.002 −0.002 0.003
(0.002) (0.003) (0.004) (0.003) (0.003) (0.005)
Armed conflict −0.017 −0.018 0.035 −0.003 −0.002 0.016
dummy (0.029) (0.031) (0.048) (0.029) (0.031) (0.049)
Log of youth 1.000*** 1.124*** 0.505*** 1.024*** 1.154*** 0.635***
population share (0.090) (0.097) (0.148) (0.090) (0.097) (0.151)
Log of improved −0.409*** −0.495*** −0.541*** −0.370*** −0.451*** −0.496***
sanitation facilities (0.047) (0.051) (0.077) (0.046) (0.050) (0.077)
Log of value-added
agriculture (% of
GDP)
−0.063** −0.093*** −0.158*** −0.094*** −0.127*** −0.147***
(0.028) (0.030) (0.046) (0.029) (0.031) (0.048)
Constant 1.496*** 1.716*** 4.176*** 1.306** 1.492** 3.558***
(0.566) (0.609) (0.929) (0.564) (0.604) (0.944)
Number of
observations
539 539 537 531 531 529
R2 0.963 0.966 0.927 0.963 0.966 0.925
( ) = standard errors, GDP = gross domestic product, PPP = purchasing power parity, R2 = R-squared.
Notes:
1. ***, ** and * denote significance at 1%, 5%, and 10%, respectively.
2. Dependent variables are log of infant mortality rate, log of child mortality rate, and log of prevalence of
undernourishment.
3. All specifications control for year effects, region-fixed effects, and country-specific linear time trends.
Source: Authors' calculations.


Lastly, Table 7 reports the results when food price inflation and volatility variables are
interacted with the log of agriculture, value-added as a percentage of GDP. In most of the
specifications, the coefficients of interaction terms are negative numbers, implying a smaller
impact of food price inflation and volatility on population health in developing countries with a
Food Prices and Population Health in Developing Countries | 15


greater share of agriculture in GDP. The results support the assessment made by Konandreas
(2012) that better trade policy responses to food prices are necessary in poor net food-importing
countries since they are more vulnerable to high and volatile food prices.


Table 7: Food Price Inflation and Volatility: Agriculture Interaction Effects

Infant
Mortality
Child
Mortality
Under-
nourishment
Infant
Mortality
Child
Mortality
Under-
nourishment
(1) (2) (3) (1) (2) (3)
Food price inflation 0.009*** 0.009*** 0.012***
(0.002) (0.003) (0.004)
Food price inflation * −0.003*** −0.003*** −0.003*
Agriculture (0.001) (0.001) (0.002)
Food price volatility 10.506*** 10.696*** 6.544
(2.822) (3.030) (4.780)
Food price volatility * −3.351*** −3.402*** −1.842
Agriculture (1.057) (1.135) (1.791)
Log of government
health expenditure
per capita
−0.159***
(0.026)
−0.157***
(0.028)
−0.376***
(0.042)
−0.197***
(0.030)
−0.197***
(0.032)
−0.305***
(0.051)
Log of GDP per 0.061 0.058 0.016 0.092* 0.088 −0.013
capita, PPP (0.051) (0.054) (0.083) (0.051) (0.055) (0.086)
Political score −0.006** −0.006** 0.011*** −0.002 −0.002 0.003
(0.002) (0.003) (0.004) (0.003) (0.003) (0.005)
Armed conflict −0.018 −0.018 0.035 −0.013 −0.012 0.011
dummy (0.029) (0.031) (0.047) (0.029) (0.031) (0.049)
Log of youth 0.989*** 1.113*** 0.493*** 1.033*** 1.165*** 0.649***
population share (0.090) (0.096) (0.148) (0.089) (0.096) (0.151)
Log of improved
sanitation facilities
−0.417*** −0.503*** −0.550*** −0.383*** −0.466*** −0.516***
(0.047) (0.050) (0.077) (0.046) (0.049) (0.077)
Log of value-added
agriculture (% of
GDP)
−0.049*
(0.028)
−0.079***
(0.031)
−0.143***
(0.047)
−0.038
(0.034)
−0.071*
(0.036)
−0.122**
(0.057)
Constant 1.707*** 1.942*** 4.431*** 1.255** 1.472** 3.737***
(0.562) (0.605) (0.926) (0.555) (0.597) (0.941)
Number of
observations
539 539 537 531 531 529
R2 0.964 0.966 0.928 0.964 0.967 0.924
( ) = standard errors, GDP = gross domestic product, PPP = purchasing power parity, R2 = R-squared.
Notes:
1. ***, ** and * denote significance at 1%, 5%, and 10%, respectively.
2. Dependent variables are log of infant mortality rate, log of child mortality rate, and log of prevalence of
undernourishment.
3. All specifications control for year effects, region-fixed effects, and country-specific linear time trends.
Source: Authors' calculations.





16 | ADB Economics Working Paper Series No. 374


IV. SUMMARY AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

High food prices have a potentially detrimental impact on the nutrition and health of the
population in developing countries where the majority of the household income is spent on
basic foodstuff.

High and volatile food prices are of major concern because they erode the purchasing
power of poor households, and could undermine nutrition and health especially among women
and children. Using a panel dataset covering 63 developing countries for the period from 2001
to 2010, this paper makes a comprehensive assessment on the effects of food price inflation
and volatility on population health, measured as infant mortality rate, child mortality rate, and the
prevalence of undernourishment. We find that rising and fluctuating food prices have a
significant and adverse effect on all three health indicators in developing countries.
Furthermore, the impact of food prices is greater in the LDCs. Interestingly, however, the impact
is smaller in countries with a higher share of agriculture in GDP.

Empirical findings support the international call for an increase in government
investment in public health. In all specifications, government health expenditures per capita
have a negative relationship with infant mortality, child mortality, and undernourishment
prevalence. Governments can play an important role in improving population health in
developing countries by taking the lead in developing effective national health systems and
strengthening investment in public health.

Strong policy actions are needed to mitigate the effects of food price inflation and
volatility on health and nutrition. In the short run, the focus may be on helping poor households
and farmers cope with the risks of transitory food price hikes and volatility. Well-targeted
safety nets such as cash or in-kind transfers, feeding programs, and emergency employment
programs may offer effective short-term relief (ADB 2012). In the long run, investing in
agriculture and human capital development is critical for ensuring food security and achieving
overall development goals. Investing in human development and basic infrastructure services is
fundamental to helping the poor break out of the poverty trap and achieve food security, while
farm investments should target increased agricultural productivity and rural development to
meet the growing demand for food in a sustainable manner over the long term.



APPENDIXES

Appendix A: Country List and Statistics on Food Price
Region Country
Least
Developed
Countries
Food Price
Inflation
2001–2010
Average (%)
Food Price
Volatility
2001–2010
Average
East Asia
and the
Pacific
1 Cambodia LDC 1.7 0.0179
2 People's Republic
of China
5.8 0.0164
3 Fiji 4.8 0.0156
4 Indonesia 10.0 0.0175
5 Lao People's
Democratic Republic
LDC 9.0 0.0174
6 Malaysia 7.8 0.0096
7 Philippines 8.6 0.0197
8 Solomon Islands LDC 7.6 0.0077
9 Thailand 0.1 0.0164
10 Timor-Leste LDC 6.1 0.0192
11 Viet Nam 13.3 0.0191
South Asia
12 Bangladesh LDC 7.4 0.0129
13 Bhutan LDC 5.5 …
14 India 7.4 0.0123
15 Nepal LDC 5.7 0.0120
16 Pakistan 5.6 0.0064
17 Sri Lanka 7.3 0.0262
Sub-Saharan
Africa
18 Angola LDC 50.8 0.0329
19 Botswana 9.7 0.0099
20 Cameroon 3.9 0.0113
21 Ethiopia LDC 17.4 0.0265
22 Kenya 15.5 0.0228
23 Malawi LDC 4.7 0.0054
24 Mauritius 5.6 0.0101
25 Nigeria 11.1 0.0177
26 South Africa 11.9 0.0268
Middle East
and North
Africa
27 Algeria 4.6 0.0260
28 Egypt 9.4 0.0158
29 Jordan 6.1 0.0162
30 Morocco 8.3 0.0182
31 Syrian Arab Republic 4.7 0.0080
32 Tunisia 4.0 0.0065
33 Yemen LDC 19.3 0.0356
continued on next page


18 | Appendix A


Table continued
Region Country
Least
Developed
Countries
Food Price
Inflation 2001–
2010 Average (%)
Food Price
Volatility 2001–
2010 Average
Latin
America
and the
Caribbean
34 Argentina 12.8 0.0132
35 Bolivia 6.2 0.0105
36 Brazil 8.0 0.0103
37 Chile 4.6 0.0093
38 Colombia 7.0 0.0091
39 Costa Rica 12.6 0.0123
40 Dominican Republic 13.1 0.0170
41 El Salvador 4.2 0.0130
42 Guatemala 8.8 0.0100
43 Honduras 7.4 0.0101
44 Jamaica 13.0 0.0141
45 Mexico 2.8 0.0135
46 Nicaragua 13.6 0.0188
47 Panama 11.6 0.0244
48 Paraguay 3.6 0.0062
49 Peru 5.2 0.0059
50 Uruguay 10.5 0.0153
51 Venezuela 28.4 0.0283
Europe and
Central Asia
52 Albania 3.0 0.0231
53 Armenia 6.2 0.0279
54 Azerbaijan 9.4 0.0166
55 Belarus 28.3 0.0215
56 Bulgaria 4.7 0.0193
57 Georgia 2.3 0.0229
58 Latvia 7.1 0.0132
59 Lithuania 4.3 0.0093
60 Republic of Moldova 7.4 ...
61 Former Yugoslav
Republic of
Macedonia

8.6 0.0446
62 Turkey 17.9 0.0257
63 Ukraine 9.9 0.0156
… = no data.
Source: Authors’ calculations using FAOSTAT.









Appendix B: Country List and Statistics on Population Health
Region Country
Least
Developed
Countries
Infant Mortality Child Mortality Undernourishment
2001 2010 Change 2001 2010 Change 2001 2010 Change
East Asia
and the
Pacific
1 Cambodia LDC 72.1 39.0 33.1 94.5 46.0 48.5 32.8 18.9 13.9
2 People's
Republic of
China
27.1 13.7 13.4 32.7 15.9 16.8 14.3 11.5 2.8
3 Fiji 18.6 14.7 3.9 21.8 17.1 4.7 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
4 Indonesia 36.4 25.8 10.6 50.5 33.3 17.2 17.4 9.4 8.0
5 Lao
People's
Democratic
Republic
LDC 57.0 35.2 21.8 76.4 43.9 32.5 38.4 28.0 10.4
6 Malaysia 15.4 13.0 2.4 17.7 15.2 2.5 6.3 5.5 0.8
7 Philippines 19.5 14.3 5.2 22.9 16.6 6.3 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
8 Solomon
Islands
LDC 53.0 35.5 17.5 76.3 52.6 23.7 < 5.0 < 50 0.0
9 Thailand 13.7 9.2 4.5 15.6 10.2 5.4 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
10 Timor-Leste LDC 81.1 48.5 32.6 102.8 57.6 45.2 28.2 36.2 −8.0
11 Viet Nam 25.3 18.1 7.2 32.5 22.6 9.9 20.9 10.1 10.8
South Asia
12 Bangladesh LDC 59.2 38.6 20.6 80.0 48.7 31.3 17.0 17.1 0.1
13 Bhutan LDC 62.6 43.6 19.0 85.2 55.9 29.3 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
14 India 62.4 48.6 13.8 85.0 63.4 21.6 21.6 18.3 3.3
15 Nepal LDC 32.7 22.7 10.0 40.4 27.0 13.4 31.3 21.5 9.8
16 Pakistan 20.6 17.1 3.5 25.1 20.0 5.1 24.1 11.1 13.0
17 Sri Lanka 18.7 13.7 5.0 22.0 15.9 6.1 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
Sub-
Saharan
Africa
18 Angola LDC 116.6 98.2 18.4 195.4 161.0 34.4 45.6 28.0 17.6
19 Botswana 48.8 21.3 27.5 80.8 27.5 53.3 34.2 29.0 5.2
20 Cameroon 85.9 79.9 6.0 138.9 128.9 10.0 26.8 15.1 11.7
21 Ethiopia LDC 82.1 54.0 28.1 131.5 81.5 50.0 53.5 41.0 12.5
22 Kenya 67.8 50.1 17.7 109.2 76.1 33.1 34.3 30.9 3.4
23 Malawi LDC 8.7 5.8 2.9 10.1 6.8 3.3 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
24 Mauritius 22.8 14.1 8.7 27.5 16.6 10.9 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
25 Nigeria 74.3 60.4 13.9 93.0 73.7 19.3 23.9 20.3 3.6
26 South Africa 15.8 10.8 5.0 18.4 12.6 5.8 28.6 24.5 4.1
Middle
East and
North
Africa
27 Algeria 37.1 26.9 10.2 43.6 31.3 12.3 5.5 < 5.0 0.0
28 Egypt 33.5 19.1 14.4 41.5 22.5 19 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
29 Jordan 23.3 18.4 4.9 27.2 21.1 6.1 5.0 5.0 0.0
30 Morocco 59.3 40.6 18.7 78.9 50.3 28.6 24.0 18.4 5.6
31 Syrian Arab
Republic
15.4 11.0 4.4 17.9 12.8 5.1 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
32 Tunisia 23.4 14.8 8.6 27.9 17.2 10.7 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
33 Yemen LDC 70.0 58.3 11.7 96.9 78.5 18.4 30.9 31.8 −0.9
continued on next page















20 | Appendix B

Table continued
Region Country
Least
Developed
Countries
Infant Mortality Child Mortality Undernourishment
2001 2010 Change 2001 2010 Change 2001 2010 Change
Latin
America
and the
Caribbean
34 Argentina 17.6 13.0 4.6 19.7 14.5 5.2 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
35 Bolivia 56.8 40.9 15.9 77.1 52.9 24.2 28.5 24.8 3.7
36 Brazil 29.4 15.0 14.4 33.6 16.8 16.8 11.1 7.2 3.9
37 Chile 8.7 7.7 1.0 10.4 8.8 1.6 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
38 Colombia 20.5 15.8 4.7 24.3 18.3 6 13.1 12.4 0.7
39 Costa Rica 10.5 8.7 1.8 12.3 10.1 2.2 < 5.0 5.8 −0.8
40 Dominican
Republic
30.3 21.7 8.6 37.0 25.7 11.3 21.9 15.4 6.5
41 El Salvador 26.2 14.0 12.2 31.6 16.3 15.3 8.8 11.9 −3.1
42 Guatemala 35.8 25.2 10.6 46.2 31.6 14.6 25.7 29.7 −4.0
43 Honduras 27.7 18.9 8.8 33.5 22.2 11.3 15.7 10.0 5.7
44 Jamaica 21.0 16.3 4.7 24.8 19.0 5.8 6.7 8.7 −2.0
45 Mexico 42.6 29.4 13.2 50.5 34.3 16.2 5.8 5.4 0.4
46 Nicaragua 109.0 80.8 28.2 181.3 129.2 52.1 10.1 8.1 2.0
47 Panama 27.9 19.9 8.0 33.8 23.4 10.4 12.1 22.1 −10.0
48 Paraguay 27.9 15.1 12.8 36.3 19.4 16.9 22.8 12.6 10.2
49 Peru 28.4 21.0 7.4 37.3 26.4 10.9 21.0 16.6 4.4
50 Uruguay 14.4 9.1 5.3 16.6 10.8 5.8 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
51 Venezuela 18.3 13.4 4.9 21.5 15.6 5.9 16.2 < 5.0 11.2
Europe
and
Central
Asia
52 Albania 22.2 13.4 8.8 25.0 15.0 10.0 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
53 Armenia 25.0 16.4 8.6 28.3 18.3 10.0 16.1 < 5.0 11.1
54 Azerbaijan 55.0 39.8 15.2 66.4 46.4 20.0 10.4 < 5.0 5.4
55 Belarus 10.1 4.3 5.8 12.8 6.1 6.7 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
56 Bulgaria 17.0 11.0 6.0 19.9 12.7 7.2 5.0 5.0 0.0
57 Georgia 27.5 19.2 8.3 31.3 21.5 9.8 22.8 28.2 −5.4
58 Latvia 13.5 7.6 5.9 16.1 8.9 7.2 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
59 Lithuania 9.0 5.1 3.9 11.2 6.2 5.0 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
60 Republic of
Moldova
24.7 18.9 5.8 29.6 22.2 7.4 14.0 12.5 1.5
61 Former
Yugoslav
Republic of
Macedonia
94.2 56.1 38.1 156.6 89.0 67.6 27.3 23.2 4.1
62 Turkey 26.1 12.5 13.6 32.8 16.3 16.5 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
63 Ukraine 15.1 9.2 5.9 17.6 10.7 6.9 < 5.0 < 5.0 0.0
Note: <5 are data less than 5%. They are regarded as 5 in the estimation.
Source: Authors’ calculations using the UN MDGs Indicators database. 



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Food Prices and Population Health in Developing
Countries: An Investigation of the Efects of
the Food Crisis Using a Panel Analysis
Suejin Lee, Jae-Young Lim, Hyun-Hoon Lee, and Cyn-Young Park
No. 374 | September 2013
ADB Economics
Working Paper Series
Food Prices and Population Health in Developing Countries:
An Investigation of the Efects of the Food Crisis Using a Panel Analysis
The efects of high and unstable food prices can be felt anywhere in the world—but more so in developing
countries, where the poor are most vulnerable. Prohibitive food prices threaten food security, hindering the
poor from getting adequate nutrition. Using a dataset covering 63 developing countries from 2001 to 2010, this
paper examines the efects of food price infation and volatility on population health in developing countries,
specifcally in terms of infant mortality, child mortality, and undernourishment. The paper fnds that rising food
prices have a signifcant and adverse efect on health indicators in developing countries.
About the Asian Development Bank
ADB’s vision is an Asia and Pacifc region free of poverty. Its mission is to help its developing
member countries reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of their people. Despite the
region’s many successes, it remains home to two-thirds of the world’s poor: 1.7 billion people who
live on less than $2 a day, with 828 million struggling on less than $1.25 a day. ADB is committed
to reducing poverty through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth,
and regional integration.
Based in Manila, ADB is owned by 67 members, including 48 from the region. Its main
instruments for helping its developing member countries are policy dialogue, loans, equity
investments, guarantees, grants, and technical assistance.
Asian Development Bank
6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City
1550 Metro Manila, Philippines
www.adb.org/economics
Printed on recycled paper Printed in the Philippines

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